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Post-festival passenger flow peaks
By Guo Nei (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-15 01:03

A new domestic transport peak fell yesterday as the week-long lunar New Year holiday began winding to a close.

Ticket inspectors check passengers about to board a Shanghai-bound train at Yingshang Railway Station, in Anhui Province. As the Spring Festival and lunar New Year holiday draws to an end, millions of migrant workers are on the move again, either returning to their old jobs or going in search of new ones in cities. [China Daily]
Hundreds of thousands, studying and working away from their home towns, have begun to hit roads, rail and air links after spending Spring Festival reunited with family. A great tide of Chinese humanity is heading for the nation's major cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and the flourishing east coast areas.

Non-stop charter flights across the Taiwan Straits were also back in the skies bringing mainland-based Taiwan business people and their families back. Some six flights took off yesterday, flying to different destinations.

But it is China's railways which will bear the brunt of the annual exodus. The Beijing Railway Administration predicted a flood tide of passengers yesterday and today, the post-festival period for some regions, including the capital.

Yesterday alone, some 200,000 passengers registered their return to Beijing to resume work or studies in the Year of the Rooster.

Another 160,000 passengers left Beijing for a variety of reasons, business or social. The wise, however, have postponed their journeys until quieter times resume.

An additional 28 trains have been brought in to reduce the load on Beijing's rail links.

"The number of passengers who arrived in Beijing today is 44 per cent higher than that for the same period last year," said an employee surnamed Yang with the Beijing West Railway Station, one of the two major stations in the city.

Shanghai also encountered its busiest day yesterday since last week.

Nearly 40 additional trains were added to help the passenger flow, which totalled 130,000.

"People travelling back at the moment are mainly migrant workers and local tourists touring outside," said a source with the Shanghai Railway Administration (SRA).

Between February 9 and 13, a total of 2.38 million passengers travelled on SRA trains, a figure unchanged on last year.

Zhejiang on the east coast and one of the biggest provinces for attracting migrant workers in China, has witnessed a major passenger influx since yesterday.

The local transport authority predicts the main rush will run until tomorrow.

Major domestic airlines will also be hit over the next couple of days by travellers returning after the holiday.

About 360,000 passengers took to the air yesterday.

Bad weather has impacted the travel situation and it has added to the grim toll of road accidents, which have come to characterize peak holiday periods.

A long-distance coach carrying about 60 passengers plunged into a 50-metre-deep valley yesterday afternoon near Dushan County in Guizhou Province, in the southwest.

Initial reports put the confirmed death toll at 15 with at least 20 seriously injured and 20 others still trapped in the wreckage by 6:30 pm, according to a Xinhua report.

On Sunday a grossly overloaded bus, which went out of control on a mountain road in Zhejiang, left eight people dead and some 31 injured when it plunged down a gully.

The 19-seater was carrying 39 passengers when it plummeted off a bridge and into a 10-metre-deep valley in Zuocun Township near Dongyang City.

Transport authorities have called for tougher road safety measures after another two fatal accidents over the lunar New Year holiday claimed the lives of four people from Hong Kong.

An emergency statement demanding tour operators and travel companies improve safety standards has been issued by the China National Holiday Office.

(China Daily 02/15/2005 page2)

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